Many people face a head on struggle with gas and electricity prices, especially after many of the biggest utility companies have put prices up by nearly 10%, nearly 3 times the rate of inflation.
The Big Six – which you may have heard people referring to – is made up of British Gas, Npower, Eon, EDF, SSE and Scottish Power – of these providers only Eon and EDF have currently decided against increasing energy prices.
However, with all the attention directed at the people that supply our gas and electric, many have forgotten about the costs of water.
As it is such a basic need, many overlook the necessity of water supply.
Households are also unable to change their providers as it all depends on where you live, meaning that customers are hostages to the prices being charged by their suppliers.
The lack of competition means that the water suppliers are able to set their price and only the government can pressure them to reconsider. Whereas customers usually have a choice of suppliers with things such as gas and electric, there is no similar option for water.
Ofwat, the regulator for water suppliers, outlines that the information that water companies give you should be:
- Accurate ‒ it should be correct – for example, it cannot bill you for things if these charges are not detailed in its company charges scheme
- Transparent ‒ it should not be misleading or biased, and should allow you to make an informed decision
- Clear ‒ it should cover the main points and tell you where to find more detailed information
- Accessible ‒ it should be given to you if you are likely to need that information and it should be easy for you to get hold of
- Timely ‒ it should be given to you at the right time, such as when you move house
- Customer-led ‒ it should be based on feedback from you and other customers to make sure that it is helpful.
Ofwat also conduct yearly reviews to make sure that the water companies are not abusing their power as the sole providers of water for large areas and numbers of people.
However, even though these measures are in place, this has not stopped water companies coming under fire from Environment Secretary Owen Paterson, who believes that keeping water bills low is one of the ways the government can help people to deliver more of a living wage, allowing families to reserve their hard earned cash for things they want to put it towards, rather than being forced to scrape by.
The government is challenging the price rises, after only one price rise was approved by Ofwat for Thames Water.
They claim that some of the past information provided to them by the water companies had not shown the impact of lower running costs they were operating on, meaning more savings can potentially be made by customers if the enquiry finds that some of the costs are not fully justified.
How To Save On Your Water Bills
If there are fewer people in your house than there are bedrooms, or if your household is careful about water usage, make sure you are on a meter. The latest Ofwat price checks show that being on a water meter can help reduce your bills by £145 when comparing the combined price of sewage disposal and water when on a meter.
There is a wide range of different water saving products available to help you save on energy costs.
Some of these can also help you to make small savings on other utility bills – by reducing the amount of water you use, you can reduce the amount of power needed to heat it.
Savings For Free!
It’s not often that you get things for free. But many water suppliers are offering water saving products for no charge to customers!
There are a number of different products that can be used all around the home. From information packs to shower flow regulators, to shower timers, there are plenty of things available to help you to save.
To save time, click this link to find your water supplier to see what products and other information are available to you for free.
If you have any questions regarding your water bills or the service you receive, you should look to contact your supplier first. If you have any further concerns, contacting Ofwat can be your next step.